Retired engineer sets sights on epic challenge

By James Davies   |   Reporter   |
Friday 20th May 2022 1:26 pm
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Dafydd Hughes and inset The Bendigedig in Aberaeron last week

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A TALYBONT is planning to take on to sail on a solo journey around the world to raise awareness for the importance of nature in mental health.

Dafydd Hughes, a retired chartered engineer, is taking on the Global Solo Challenge 2023/2024, a challenge which sees its competitors single-handedly travel 26,000 Nautical Miles across 200 days.

If this wasn’t hard enough, Dafydd is using a boat which has been untouched for more than a decade.

The Bendigedig, a Sparkman and Stephens 34 that Dafydd purchased after hearing about the event in 2020, was built in 1971 and has been unused for 18 years.

Over the last 12 months, Dafydd has worked to refurbish the boat ahead of the competition. On 18 May, Bendigedig touched water for the first time in in nearly 20 years after its launch into Aberaeron Harbour.

However, this journey is about more than challenging himself.

Dafydd has a number of aims for the project, which he says are “To complete the course, with Zero Emissions (or if not possible offset to zero), make the best use of recycled/refurbished equipment dur-ing the refit (without compromising safety or reliability) and to promote the link between Nature and Mental Health.”

He is currently working with Coed Lleol, using his woodland to provide mental health assistance.

Dafydd said: “This is something that I’m passionate about, as it was working in the woods that helped my recovery from my own mental health issues.

“Back in June 2017, I purchased a small woodland, then, shortly afterwards my mental wellbeing rapidly deteriorated. Simple tasks like going shopping became a major issue for me, and I was unable to manage the site.

“I spent the summer of 2019 working on a farm in Ireland that belonged to a friend of mine, and this was the beginning of my recovery. I started going to the woodland most days, pulling up brambles and clearing small saplings. “Then a friend mentioned that Coed Lleol were looking for places to hold their weekly sessions and the rest is history!” Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales) has been providing health and wellbeing activities through their Actif Woods Wales programme since 2010, offering opportunities for participation in outdoor nature-based programmes. Ahead of his journey, Dafydd has also received words of support from Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to complete a solo circumnavigation and now Patron of the Golden Globe Race and chair-man of Clipper Ventures, of which Dafydd used to be a crewmember.

He said: “I first met Dafydd in 2007, when he was crew member of Glasgow in 07/08 edition of the Clipper Race. Not only did he complete the race, but he did so as a Round the World Watch Leader, helping to guide Glasgow to an overall podium position.”

With extensive experience and with a fully refurbished boat, Dafydd is due to start his journey across the world’s oceans when he sets off from Spain in September next year.

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